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[Archived] News Article -> 2011/12 Match Report: Rovers 0 Chelsea 1

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Blackburn Rovers (0) 0 – 1 (0) Tottenham Hotspur
Lampard 51
Referee: M. Dean Attendance: 21,985

Whatever qualities Steve Kean may or may not possess, it would appear that luck is the one attribute that he doesn't have in abundance. One might argue that he is lucky to still be in a job after winning just six league games since taking over last December. However, can anybody working for Venky's be truly described as lucky? If Kean is the outwardly visible symptom of the problems at Ewood Park, it is the family in Pune who are the root cause of the club's remarkable decline during the past twelve months.

Six points from the opening eleven games has left the club staring into the abyss and yet the owners appear more concerned with stifling protest rather than addressing the issues which have led to the unrest at Ewood Park. Leaving the ground on Saturday to the sight of stewards and police locking gates to prevent access to the front of the Jack Walker Stand merely illustrated how the club has changed out of all recognition during the past twelve months. The "family club" that had been nurtured so well by Messrs Williams and Finn has long gone and is now replaced by a heavy-handed approach to stewarding that would appear to view the fans as the enemy. We have a PR machine that could have been tutored by Pravda for its blinkered approach to recent events, while Radio Rovers seems to live in a parallel universe where all is well and the sun shines on anything blue and white. Clearly negativity is not to be tolerated in the wonderful world of Venky's.

Once again, much of the pre-match build-up had been dominated by talk of demonstrations and the club's clumsy attempts to stifle such protests. The ban on banners simply brought more ridicule on the club and the resultant banner being towed by the plane has no doubt received far more media exposure than if banners had been allowed in the ground in the first place. With their penchant for scoring own goals, one wonders if the Rovers PR department has been taking lessons from the Arsenal defence. Sadly, nobody appears to have informed them that when you're in a hole, it's always advisable to stop digging.

The match itself provided further evidence of an improvement in performance if not result and therein is the enigma that is Blackburn Rovers today. The players clearly have confidence in the manager and he obviously has faith in his players. Yet, results continue to prove elusive. While the football might be easier on the eye than that of his predecessor, the simple fact remains that Allardyce, who admittedly struggled away from home, produced results at Ewood Park which kept the club in a healthy league position. Thus far, Kean has failed to get results both at home and away.

Having dropped two points last week, in the cruellest of circumstances, Lady Luck again deserted the Rovers, although some indifferent finishing and good goalkeeping also played their part in the latest setback.

After the excellent performance at Carrow Road, Kean had the luxury of naming an unchanged side for the first time this season. The gulf between the resources of the two clubs was perfectly illustrated by the Chelsea bench, which included Jose Bosingwa, Raul Meireles, Salomon Kalou and Fernando Torres.

It was the visitors who quickly announced their attacking intentions when Florent Malouda found the time and space to deliver a ball into the Rovers penalty area. Fortunately, the intended recipient, Daniel Sturridge, didn't have a telescopic leg and so was unable to reach the ball before Paul Robinson safely gathered it in. Nonetheless, Chelsea's fluidity of movement caused a number of problems during the opening period and the Rovers struggled to impose themselves on the game.

Gradually, the home side came into it rather more thanks to the promptings of Ruben Rochina and Steven Nzonzi. Mauro Formica also began to see more of the ball and it was a move involving "Junior" Hoilett and Formica which almost resulted in the Rovers taking the lead. The two worked the ball down the left wing before the Argentinian was played into space by Hoilett. Formica showed great composure and crossed the ball for Yakubu who, under pressure from Petr Cech and Ashley Cole, managed to poke the ball wide. It was a glaring miss and the sort of opportunity which really ought to have been put away. Play was held up for six or seven minutes while Cech received treatment for a broken nose, having collided with Yakubu and Cole when the Nigerian missed the target.

Shortly after play resumed, the drone of an aircraft engine was heard overhead with the "Steve Kean Out" banner in tow. Whilst it caused a ripple of "Kean Out" cries, the fans continued to get behind the team as they seemed to be on top at this point. Whether it was the plane or the fact that Chelsea upped a gear, the visitors gradually began to force the Rovers onto the back foot. For some reason, Hoilett seemed strangely subdued and the Rovers suffered a further blow when Chris Samba suffered a hamstring injury which necessitated his replacement with Grant Hanley.

Although the visitors ended the half on top, they rarely threatened Paul Robinson's goal despite their impressive ball retention.

Chelsea introduced Fernando Torres at the start of the second half in a bid to add more firepower to their attack. However, it was their old warhorse Frank Lampard who scored the decisive goal after 51 minutes and how ironic that it was yet another poor piece of defending from young Hoilett that contributed to the downfall of the Rovers goal. Branislav Ivanovic, hardly the speediest of full-backs, picked up the ball on the overlap and stepped inside of an embarrassingly poor effort to tackle from Hoilett before he curled a delightful ball, with the outside of his foot, into the centre. The low cross was met by the head of a diving Lampard, who steered the ball past Robinson and into the corner of the net.

To their credit, the Rovers continued to take the fight to Chelsea and Cech was forced to produce an excellent save from a typically powerful free-kick from Morten Gamst Pedersen. However, the 'keeper could only knock the ball into the path of Hanley, but the young defender could only steer the ball back into the arms of Cech. It was another excellent opportunity and the type of chance that simply cannot be spurned at this level.

Chelsea were also dangerous on the break with Juan Mata pulling the strings in midfield, and Robinson was called into action to make a superb save from a long-range effort from Lampard.

The Rovers came back again and Yakubu forced Cech into making a diving save when he took advantage of a mix-up between John Terry and Alex but was unable to curl the ball past the Chelsea custodian. A few minutes later Cech was beaten by an effort from Formica, but Ramires was on hand to clear the danger.

At this point the Rovers had Chelsea rocking and Ivanovic headed against his own bar, from a Pedersen corner, and was grateful to see it go over rather than drop into the goal. The Norwegian midfielder quickly had another effort at goal which flew narrowly over the bar.

Chelsea also had their chances. Firstly, Daniel Sturridge failed to reach a cross from Ashley Cole with the goal at his mercy. The Chelsea youngster claimed he had been pushed, but this was ignored by the referee. In the dying moments of the game the visitors really ought to have doubled their lead, but Torres, from almost under the ball, somehow contrived to shoot over.

With regard to individual performances, there was much to admire about the Rovers. Once again, Jason Lowe did enough to suggest that he might well have a long-term future at right-back. Gael Givet was again immense in the heart of the defence and would appear to have cemented his position as the ideal partner for Chris Samba. The loss of the captain might well be covered by the return of Scott Dann and Ryan Nelsen, but there is no doubt that his absence is going to be keenly felt at both ends of the pitch. Both Steven Nzonzi and Morten Gamst Pedersen were excellent as the holding players in midfield, while Ruben Rochina and Mauro Formica appear to be growing into the "English" game and both made significant contributions in the build-up play. With Junior Hoilett strangely subdued, and one can only hope this is not a sign of things to come in light of his apparent contract situation, it was left to Martin Olsson to provide the pace down the wing from the full-back position. Up front, Yakubu worked hard and although his hold-up play is good, he is not the quickest and needs far more service if he is to prosper in front of goal. However, the reality is that the Rovers need to spend some serious money in this area if they hope to survive. The truth of the matter is that we don't have one striker who looks capable of notching ten goals in a season and that is a serious handicap for any club in our position.

The full-time whistle was greeted with relief from the visitors and a strange feeling of resignation amongst home supporters. The planned protest at the end of the game quickly fizzled out due to the air of depression which now fills Ewood Park. The stewards and police began to lock down the ground while the fans simply drifted away almost resigned to the fact that Championship football beckons ever more clearly with each passing week. The simple fact is that at the moment the team are playing well but still finding points elusive, and once again the post-match press conference focussed on the lack of luck, always a favourite refuge for managers in trouble. There can be no doubt that we have been desperately unlucky in the past couple of games, but the truth is that we have squandered far too many opportunities at one end and been far too charitable at the other. Teams that can't score and can't defend usually get relegated irrespective of luck.

As the players embark on international duty for the next couple of weeks, it provides an opportunity to regroup for the vital pre-Christmas programme. Home games against Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion and Bolton Wanderers loom, and these, coupled with away trips to Wigan Athletic and Stoke City, may well go some way to deciding the club's fate. If Kean can't deliver results in these games, then relegation would be difficult, if not impossible, to avoid. Despite the protests, it seems increasingly likely that Kean will be here for the foreseeable future, while the owners, it would appear, seem none too eager to visit their Lancashire investment. Apathy, both on the part of the owners and the supporters, would appear to be the greatest threat to future prospects. A gate of 21,985 included a sizable contingent from Chelsea and would reaffirm the growing conclusion that many supporters have decided that "Venky Rovers" is not for them and are now voting with their feet and staying away. One can only wonder what Jack Walker would make of the way in which our Indian friends have allowed this club to disintegrate into sheer chaos. At the moment we are a rudderless ship heading for the rocks and it appears there is nobody who has the first idea about what to do to avoid the seemingly inevitable disaster.


Blackburn Rovers

Paul Robinson; Jason Lowe, Chris Samba (Grant Hanley 45 + 1), Gael Givet, Martin Olsson; Steven Nzonzi, Morten Gamst Pedersen; Ruben Rochina (David Dunn 71), Mauro Formica, David "Junior" Hoilett; Yakubu
Subs not used: Mark Bunn (gk), Simon Vukcevic, Radosav Petrovic, Nick Blackman, David Goodwillie
Manager: Steve Kean


Petr Cech; Branislav Ivanovic, Alex, John Terry, Ashley Cole; Ramires (Oriol Romeu 90 + 2), John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard; Florent Malouda (Fernando Torres 46), Daniel Sturridge, Juan Mata (Raul Meireles 82)
Subs not used: Ross Turnbull (gk), Jose Bosingwa, Romelu Lukaku, Salomon Kalou
Manager: Andre Villas-Boas


Blackburn Rovers – Jason Lowe, Grant Hanley, Gael Givet, Morten Gamst Pedersen
Chelsea – Daniel Sturridge, Raul Meireles

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